Steamboat Willie vs.

Waffen-SS Soldier

A common mistake made by many viewers of Saving Private Ryan is to assume that the same German who was captured and released by Captain Miller's squad, "Steamboat Willie," is the same German that later kills Private Mellish during the battle in Ramelle near the end of the film.

Mellish is not killed by Steamboat Willie, but instead by a Waffen-SS soldier. Because all of the Germans in the film have shaved heads (an historically inaccurate portrayal), it is not difficult to get these two characters mixed up.

Below is a table that compares various physical, uniform and equipment characteristics between Steamboat Willie and Mellish's killer.

"Steamboat Willie" Waffen-SS soldier
Actor Jeorg Stadler Mac Steinmeier (uncredited)
Rank Unknown (enlisted) Private
Uniform tunic Has Heer Continental Army patch on collar Has Waffen-SS insignia and rank patch on collar
Outerwear Camouflaged zeltbahn (shelter half) with tunic sleeves visible Camouflaged smock with tunic sleeves not visible
Equipment Waist belt and braces Waist belt and braces
Hair Shaved Shaved
Hairline Hairline is not pointed Hairline is pointed
Helmet Never seen wearing a helmet Wearing a helmet when he attacks Mellish
Recognition Recognizes Upham Does not appear to recognize Upham
Wounds Cut near eye (brow) No wounds around eyes

All of the above information clearly shows that Steamboat Willie is not the same soldier that kills Private Mellish. In spite of their similar appearances, the proof is in the details and in the behavior of the characters.